Over ten thousand Doboy Ward residents are in the firing line of the Federal Government's proposal to build a new dual gauge rail freight line up the Gateway Motorway.
On 11 September 2015, the Federal Government (via their wholly owned subsidiary Australian Rail Track Corporation, ARTC) released a delivery plan to the start the design and construction of a continuous inland railway link between Melbourne and Brisbane.
The Inland Rail Delivery Plan outlines a 10 year construction timeframe to complete 1,700km of new or upgraded track.
Projects like this can be positive for the economy and take trucks off the road, if done correctly.
But local residents need to be aware that this project could have an enormous impact on the lifestyle we enjoy.
The Port of Brisbane line is just one component of ARTC's Inland Rail Project, but it is certainly the part of the project which has the highest impact on residential areas.
Check out the below map of the proposed alignments, all of which travel through the Eastern Suburbs of Brisbane.
The one you really need to be worried about is dark blue.
The line in dark blue is called the Eastern Freight Rail Bypass and is one of four options considered in the business case.
Other route options include use of the existing Brisbane railway network, or alternatively, constructing a long tunnel to the port, either an electrified tunnel or one using diesel power.
The Gateway Motorway route is cheaper to construct and is likely to be the preferred option.
The 2015 Inland Rail Business Case says the following about the Gateway Motorway route (direct quote from page 31);
"timely action to preserve a corridor for the Eastern Freight Rail Corridor could be a prudent measure."
The business case clearly rules our the option of the Electrified Tunnel as being too expensive and that upgrades to the existing corridor, whilst a short term solution will not be enough in the long run.
This route would bring the rail line close to thousands of residential properties in local suburbs and through some of Brisbane’s most environmentally important bushland areas along the Bulimba Creek corridor, including the Bulimba Creek Oxbow.
The proposed rail line would require a corridor of at least 35-40 metres wide next to the Gateway Motorway.
If you'd like to know what a 35-40 metre corridor looks like, it's roughly equivalent in size to the 6 lane sections of the Gateway Motorway.
This would cut a swathe through large tracts of bushland along the route. This is likely to include the destruction of a number of existing bushland buffer zones that currently separate residents from the Gateway Motorway.
It would be used 24 hours per day by coal trains of up to 1.5km in length and double-stacked container freight trains of up to 1.8km in length. Even longer trains of up to 3.6km in length may be used in the future.
The Inland Rail Project is being designed as a freight-only rail line and will not be able to accommodate passenger rail services.
Although this is a long-term project and the Government acknowledges that community consultation needs to occur prior to final route decisions being made, no specific timeframe for this consultation has been announced.
In the meantime, local residents face the prospect of living with years of uncertainty over this major project.
This has the potential to depress the local property market in the short term and in the long term, affect sales and ultimately land values.
The Inland Rail Project as a whole has bipartisan support at the Federal Government level. An initial commitment of funding was made in 2011 by the former Gillard Government and planning for the project has continued to progress under the Abbot/Turnbull Government.
On 11 September 2015, Opposition Infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said:
“Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss should stop talking about the long-awaited Inland Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne and start building.”
Mr Albanese was also reported on ABC News saying:
"Seriously, what are they waiting for? They've been in Government for two years. Just get on and build it."
Despite bipartisan support at the Federal level, key decisions on this project will not just be a matter for the Federal Government.
The Federal Government cannot build infrastructure projects such as this without the agreement and co-operation of the State Government. To be clear, the project can only proceed if it also receives Queensland Government approval.
How can we say "no"?
As the Councillor for Doboy Ward, I have no doubt that the community and environmental impacts of the proposed rail line along the Gateway Motorway would be entirely unacceptable.
I will certainly not support the Gateway Motorway route and will fight hard to ensure that this option is ruled-out as soon as possible.
Other options need to be considered, such as the long tunnel and/or additional upgrades to the existing Brisbane rail corridor.
I am currently preparing a submission to both the Federal and State Governments on this project and I plan to include feedback from local residents.
You can register your objection to the local impacts of this project by submitting the form below.
Thank you for your support of this crucial community campaign!
Register your objection:
Find out more
The following websites contain detailed information about the Inland Rail project:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the project can be found here.
Also see the No coal trains along the Gateway Facebook page.